Friday, November 30, 2018


In the series, The Widows of Wildcat Ridge, set in the Uinta Mountains, there is an occasional reference made to concerns about coming in contact with the Utes of the nearby Ute Reservation.They would actually be the Northern Ute.

The Utes are actually made of twelve major bands. The people and their culture and are among the Great Basin classification of Indigenous People. They have lived in the regions of present-day Utah and Colorado for centuries, hunting, fishing and gathering food. In addition to their home regions within Colorado and Utah, their hunting grounds extended into Wyoming, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. They had sacred grounds outside of their home domain that were also visited seasonally. Spiritual and ceremonial practices were observed by the Utes.

The origin of the word Ute is unknown, but Yuta was first used in Spanish documents. The Utes self-designation is based upon nuuchi-u, meaning the people.

The Utes are part of the Numic language group Ute people are from the Southern subdivision of the Numic-speaking branch of theUto-Aztecan language family, which are found almost entirely in the Western United States and Mexico. It includes both the Colorado River Numic language (Uto) dialect chain that stretches from southeastern California, along the Colorado River to Colorado and the Nahuan languages (Aztecan) of Mexico.

The history of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe is dominated by a long process of territory contraction and cession. Prior to contact with Europeans, the Ute people inhabited a vast expanse that included much of present-day Utah, Colorado, and northern New Mexico. They are generally believed to have first appeared as a distinct people in AD 1000–1200 in the southern part of the Great Basin, an area roughly located in eastern California and southern Nevada. The Ute people migrated to the Four Corners region by 1300, from where they continued to disperse across Colorado’s Rocky Mountains over the next two centuries.

There were twelve historic bands of Utes whose culture was influenced by neighboring Native Americans. Although they generally operated in family groups for hunting and gathering, they came together for ceremonies and trading. The Utes also traded with other Native American tribes and Puebloans.

Photo by Mathew Brady
In 1880, Chief Ouray and other Utes traveled to Washington. D.C. to negotiate a treaty that would result in the removal of the White River and Tabeguache Utes from Colorado to the Uintah Basin in present day Utah. Chief Ouray died at age 47 shortly after this trip. Seated from left to right: Chief Ignacio of the Southern Utes, Carl Shurz, Secretary of the Interior, Chief Ouray and his wife, Chipeta. Standing are Woretsiz and General Charles Adams. This photo was shot in Washington, D.C. in 1880 when a delegation of Ute Indians traveled to Washington to negotiate a treaty with the U.S. government.

Ute reservations as of 1868
Here is a basic timeline of the interaction between the Northern Utes and the United States government during the time period of the series:

1873 U.S. government officials appoint Ouray as Head Chief of the Utes.
1878 Meeker became agent at Whiteriver agency.
1879 Agent Nathan Meeker is killed by Yamparika Utes.
1879 As a result of the Meeker incident, officials force the Colorado Utes to sign an agreement which removes the Yamparika and Taviwach Utes to Utah (ratified June 15, 1880).
1880, Mar 6        Treaty signed by the Indians.
1880, June 15     Treaty signed by congress for Indian removal from Colorado.
1880, Aug 24      Death of Ouray.
1880-1891 Ghost Dance Movement
1881 Yamparika Utes are moved to the Uintah Reservation in Utah.
1882 Act of January 5, 1882--Uncompahgre Reservation
1885 Miners found Gilsonite--significance--only deposit in U.S.
1886 Uintah and Ouray agencies consolidate.


My latest novel, Nissa, Book 3 in The Widows of Wildcat Ridge series is now available on Amazon including Kindle Unlimited. To read the book description and purchase your copy, please CLICK HERE.


  1. Living in the area where the Utes were prevelent, I found this post very interesting. Thank you. Doris

  2. Studying the tribes is a history that is well beyond what most people consider American History.

    Thanks for this tiny tidbit, and it really is tiny when we look at the full history of this proud tribe.


Thank you for visiting Sweethearts of the West! We are very sad to require comment moderation now due to the actions of a few spam comments. Thank you for your patience.